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August 29, 2005

Kayne Talks, Jesus Walks

I'm not sure what to make of Kanye West, the man. On one hand, he's a young cat with talent and as a result a measure of fame. On the other hand, he seems to be playing head games with people.

In context, West would be what the Bible calls "a novice". The reason I say "in context" is because West recently waded into some areas of social advocacy which are complicated by his marginal entanglements with religion.

Last year, Kanye West, the artist broke huge on the music scene with a song "Jesus Walks", which by the way, is as controversial as the name of the man in the song's title. West brazenly blends the sacred and the profane and offers his reasons for doing so as attempting to reach the "people that I think God is really trying to reach." The song went on to win an arm full of awards, creating even more controversy when it was nominated for a gospel Stellar. He told USA Today, his strategy for getting the record airplay "...was [to]use reverse psychology. It was a way of calling out people who didn't want to play it without pointing fingers at anybody."

Is West really "Hip Hop's Savior" or is he just another talent laden opportunist who knows how to manipulate demographics and buzz words to get the benjamins in his back pocket? Rap News NetWork called him "arrogant". Mind you he's not the only black music icon known to swing both ways when it comes to mixing the saint and the sinner imagery. A few come to mind: Prince and R. Kelly to be exact.

That's why West's latest idealistic promotional cause has me scratching my head. West is now very concerned with "homophobia" in black rap music. Via an MTV interview, he said his epiphany occured when he connected his being called a "mama's boy" as being homophobic. Of course, that forced him into the homophobic lifestyle and thus the victim became the perpetrator. But (Jesus be praised, yo!) he stopped his homophobic ways when he discovered his cousin was gay. Hmmmm, more "reverse psychology"? West realized he had been "discriminating" against his cousin all this time. Wow, what a Damascus Road conversion that was!

I'm conflicted about this. Normally I'd rejoice at "change", but I suspect West is more about exalting self rather than Jesus. I don't think this stunt (yes, Im gonna go ahead and call it a stunt) will work for several reasons:
a)His explanation of his own change sounds woefully insincere. But remember, he's a novice so that could cover that.
b)Homosexuals may have truckloads of disposable income and buy truckloads of music, but he may be rubbing the cash cow's rainbow jugs in vain.
c)West is dissing the very art form that gave him prominence. Doesn't that make him the Clarence Thomas of rap?
d)Gays like that 130bpm last-dance stuff much too much to "change" and become rap fanatics.
e)A "yo, stop it" isn't nearly enough to force rapdom to turn on a dime and clean up their allegedly homophobic rap-a-robics.

West could have advocated a worthier cause if he really wanted to use his fame to help out. With fatherlessness in the black community currently running at about 70%, West could have inspired some wayward black man to return home and take care of his children. Many young homosexual men suffer terrible, broken relationships with their fathers. And its not because of "homophobia".
Kanye West may be talking, but Jesus is definitely walking away from this one.